For years the mantra of the New York Mets has been: Anything that can go wrong will. Last year, our ace missed the entire season, we had another member of our starting rotation appear in just four games, our first baseman missed most of the season after colliding with our third baseman on a pop-up, our second baseman was fifth in the league in batting before suffering a season-ending injury, our third baseman played for over a month with a broken back, our shortstop had two DL stints, our left fielder opened the year on the disabled list and didn’t hit when he came off and our center fielder missed over a month.
And last year was better in the injury department than the previous two seasons!
So, forgive me if I don’t quite believe what my eyes see and my ears are hearing as Spring Training comes to a close. The best-case scenario has happened and Johan Santana will take the mound on Opening Day. Scott Hairston and David Wright have returned from their oblique issues, with Wright having a HR under his belt already. Tim Byrdak and Andres Torres look like they could open the year in New York instead of on the DL.
All of the stars and planets have aligned and the Mets may do something on Opening Day that they did not do in 162 games last year – field their expected roster. Even if you take Santana out of the mix, the Mets did not have one game where all eight of their expected starters were in the lineup on the same day in 2011. Jason Bay opened the year on the DL and his first game back the Mets had Mike Nickeas catching and Justin Turner at second base.
The 2012 Mets are going to have average or better luck with injuries and it’s going to be the other teams in the NL East overrun with DL trips. We already see it in Philadelphia, where ¾ of the infield is banged up. We see it in Atlanta, with Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones on the disabled list and top prospect Arodys Vizcaino out for the season.
If you ask most prognosticators, the unanimous opinion is that the Mets are going to finish in last place in the NL East. Some doom-and-gloom types predict 100 losses. But that’s not the way the 2012 season is going to play out for the Mets.
Last year we saw the Mets finally break their streak of poor production with the bases loaded, as they actually led the National League with 131 runs scored with three runners on base. The four previous seasons, the Mets finished with an OPS under .700 with the bases full, with a high point of a .676 in 2007.
This year we’re going to see the injury curse hit some other team. With all eight regulars logging enough time to qualify for the batting title, the Mets will have one of the top offenses in the league, even without Reyes and Beltran.
The starting pitching doesn’t have to be great – it just has to be better than horrible. Think of our starters as Trent Dilfer. We’re not asking him/them to win the game, just don’t do anything to lose it.
If you think the Mets being healthy on Opening Day is a shock – try this out for size: The Mets are going to add payroll during the year, as they acquire a starting pitcher in a salary dump to bolster the rotation in the second half.
There you go – your 2012 Mets – healthy, productive with the bases loaded and making a move during the year to add payroll. It’s going to be a fun year to be a fan.